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The Right Hand - Issue #4

The Right Hand
Why is this newsletter called The Right Hand?
In the book and series Game of Thrones (GoT), The Right Hand was an important advisor to the King (or Queen). The monarch commonly turned to them for counsel when they were making important decisions.
But where did the Hand come from?
In GoT, during the Conquest of the Seven Kingdoms by House Targaryen, King Aegon I Targaryen proclaimed his half-brother, Orys Baratheon, to be “my shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand.” And with that, Orys is regarded to have been the first Hand of the King.
Insights teams (UX research, market research, and consumer analytics) are The Right Hand of the businesses they serve.
Take your rightful place. Don’t deliver data. Don’t deliver insights. Deliver counsel.
What’s new?
Check out this week’s issue of The Right Hand.
I am trying something new this week; I am publishing an essay here first. Why shouldn’t you—a subscriber—not get the first look?
As always, I always value thoughts and feedback.

Thoughts in Visuals
Developing a Point-of-View in UX Research
Nobody wants UX research.
Businesses don’t commission studies due to an undying love of data.
Businesses want data that enables them to make more informed—and less risky—business decisions, faster.
They want data that enables them to adapt to changing market conditions.
They want insights that provide value to their customers and shareholders.
Researchers should deliver value to the business.
To deliver value, researchers must follow three rules:
  1. Research should never deliver data
  2. Research should never deliver insights
  3. Research should deliver counsel.
Insights are an important part of the equation. But they are only a part of the equation. Having an insight means that you have developed the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing.
Applying that to a particular business case enables businesses to reduce decisional risk.
Value comes through reduced risk.
Knowledge is power. – Francis Bacon
When researchers are able to help the business apply insights to business decisions, they enable the business to make better decisions, faster.
The risk reduction is grounded in the premise that they help the businesses they serve become less wrong.
To provide counsel—and reduce risk—researchers should develop a Point-of-View (POV) on their insights.
A POV is clear, direct, unambiguous, unqualified direction based upon the totality of the evidence and the researcher’s insights.
A simple POV could read, “Add search capabilities to the app.” Note it lacks the qualification, i.e. “we recommend” and clearly tells the reader what they should do.
Researchers should deliver what stakeholders want.
Stakeholders want to move faster—with less risk—and adapt to growth opportunities faster than the competition. They want to provide value to the business—and shareholders—they serve.
This POV will earn insights teams their rightful place as trusted advisors to business leadership.
Get better outcomes through better decisions
The business that adapts to growth opportunities fastest, wins.
Adapting to growth opportunities is a business outcome.
People forget that they can’t control business outcomes. There are too many variables in real-world conditions to be able to account for them all.
To get good outcomes, we have to increase the effectiveness of the things we can control.
An input to good outcomes is good decisions.
UX and market research are poised to have a tremendous impact here.
They can impact outcomes by enabling businesses to make better decisions.
Improving decision-making carries two key challenges.
  1. Identifying the information used as an input to a decision
  2. Learning from decisions as a way to influence future outcomes
For the former, better information yields better outcomes. We have all heard the axiom,
Garbage in, garbage out.
For the latter, we must recognize that outcomes are important. However, learning from an outcome is dangerous. You can have great decisions that yield awful outcomes. Conversely, you can have awful decisions that yield incredible outcomes.
We can’t control outcomes. We learn more by studying the decision itself and questioning (independent of the outcome) whether the best decision was made at the time.
Start making better decisions with these principles.
Making a decision means choosing from a set of alternative courses of action to address a particular problem or opportunity. Good decisions start with these three things:
  • Define the problem: You must have clarity on the problem before deciding on how best to address it.
  • Check your assumptions: Rapid learning and course correction are key components of an agile decision-making process.
  • Seek quality data: Remember, garbage in, garbage out.
Although we can’t control outcomes, we can influence them.
Better decisions influence better outcomes.
Thoughts from Twitter
Ari Zelmanow 🇺🇦
Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.
In other news...
How 1% Performance Improvements Led to Olympic Gold
Poker, Speeding Tickets, and Expected Value: Making Decisions in an Uncertain World
How intellectual dishonesty derails discourse and debate
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Ari Zelmanow
Ari Zelmanow @zelmanow

Elevating UX research and insights teams to their rightful place as trusted advisors to business leadership.

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